In today’s globalised and pluralistic society, we are a melting pot of not only races, but also religions and ideologies. Multiculturalism is often the word that describes this blend of previously geographically distinct groupings. While today’s multicultural blend has widened our culinary palettes, it is has also increased social tension and stretched tolerances. Last weekend’s Sydney riots may have shocked some people, but for many these events have been brewing for a while. When a community does not share a common worldview, then conflict is inevitable. When a community has a sizeable percentage mutually exclusive religions (e.g. Islam and Christianity), then the conflict is often violent.
In my conversations with people since last Saturday’s riots, I have seen two main responses emerge from independent secularists (or those who generally claim to be neither Muslim or Christian).
1. Common Ground – Let’s bring religions together and agree on an acceptable and equal position. If we just converse enough, and have inter-faith dialogues, then we can create a religion that is satisfactory to both camps. ‘Don’t you know you are worshipping the same God, but you just know him by different names?‘ says the frustrated secularist. I suspect that the concept of democracy has created an expectation that a compromise religious position could be valid if we get a majority to agree. But the reality is that devout Christians and Muslims will always believe that the other’s religion leads to damnation and this infuriates the secularist.
Once the secularist accepts that religions won’t accept each other, they often progress to a second view.
2. Damn You Both – All religions are equally bogus. Religion is responsible for all the violence and evils in the world. If we just eliminated religion, then the world would finally enter a golden utopia of peace. However, this line of though ignores that Pol Pot, Stalin and Mao were all atheists and some of history’s most successful genocidal maniacs. Ironically, one atheist said to me this week, ‘there won’t be any peace on earth until we eradicate all religions’. I told him that his religious zeal was impressive. :)
Despite the secularist trying to champion religious equality (positively or negatively) they are the ones who often champion inequality in another context – the context of their ideology. Their ideology has – for all intents and purposes – become their own religion.
Without putting my political affiliations fully on display, we must obeserve that the political discourse in our country and other western countries (like the USA) has become so acrimonious that political violence seems not far off. No longer is policy civilly discussed and debated. Rather names are called, dirt is thrown and campaigns are personal and built on outright lies. Open thought about long-held social positions is drowned out by the noise of the emerging ideological army.
I lament watching the ABC’s Q&A because it has become a disrespectful and one-eyed forum for socially progressive ideology. Two week ago on Q&A, ‘comedian’ Catherine Deveny mocked Sydney archbishop Peter Jensen as a dinosaur whose pre-historic views on gay marriage would soon die out. Someone ought to remind Miss Deveny that gays can’t reproduce. It seems gays could be the ones in danger of extinction. Maybe survival is the reason that gays are so interested in surrogacies and converting straight guys to queer eyes.
Yesterday Senator Cory Bernadi proved that Australia’s ‘ideological elite’ have become such precious flowers that they cannot tolerate that someone could suggest that same-sex marriage might lead to requests for other marriage arrangements. Regardless of whether you think Mr Bernadi’s musings went too far, the clear message was that the slippery-slope warning is not even worthy to be heard in the public conversation. Let’s all ignore the fact that there are groups in Australia advocating for polygamy and marriage to dolphins. I kid you not. The correct ideological response is faux outrage to Mr Bernardi’s comments while uplifting the moral integrity of love within a same-sex marriage. Talk about calling good evil and evil good.
It is no accident that the same-sex marriage campaign uses the slogan ‘marriage equality’. It is no accident that those who favour traditional marriage are labelled as homo-phobic and hate mongers. The drumbeat of the world is ‘equality’ if I agree with it … and ‘hate crime’ if I disagree with it. It is art when we mock Christ, comedy when we mock Christians, and intolerance when the ideological vibe is questioned.
Similarly, in the debate over climate change, many advocating for strong climate action have declared that climate change sceptics should no longer have a voice. ‘The science is settled’ they shout. The strategy is to isolate and ridicule those who swim against the prevailing ideological agenda. In other words, your contrasting view is not even worthy of being heard in public. Only approved commentors will be allowed airtime until there is a single (equal) message in the mainstream media. In other words, free speech is dead.
So what is the point?
Ultimately, there is a point where it is pointless trying to reason and argue with those who are so hardened in their worldview. The level of determination by those who reject the legitimate existence of a Christian world-view, is the same level of determination which will keep them from repenting when in hell. Wasting time with those who don’t respect our ‘right to hold a Christ-only view‘ is the equivalent of casting pearls before swine.
Without shutting ourselves up in monasteries, I believe we should devote more time to encouraging believers and training our children. Hebrews 10:25 indicates there is a danger that we will fold under the peer-pressure if we do not regularly attend church. If we don’t build each other up in the truth, then we are open to being deceived. Jesus did not save us to be Rambo-like Christians who survive alone against unrelenting attacks from an increasing depraved world. Instead we are called to be faithful in word (religion) and deed (action), heart (desire) and mind (ideology). Such fidelity requires Christian community.
Brothers and Sisters, note the times. This is not the time to be compromising on truth to gain acceptance in social discussion. We must be unashamedly convinced in the exclusivity of Jesus and his message. We must hold fast to doctrine because the sand foundations of social convention are eroding by the day. On the upside, every day that the world falls further away from God is another day that we are closer to the return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This message needs highlighting more and more. Be encouraged because soon we will live in a world where there is equality of true thought – heaven.